Gaetano PescePratt Chair

Gaetano Pesce | Pratt Chair
Salon 94 94th Street

Salon 94 Design presents a continuation of Gaetano Pesce’s 1984 Pratt Chair with 16 new resin chairs — each in a unique translucent color.

Installation Views


“Around 1972, I started this idea that design is a form of art. If we respect certain conditions, art can be amplified to be amore rich expression: design. The Pratt Chair was an opportunity for me to demonstrate what I was saying.

This is a story between what we consider design, and what we consider art. But in case of the Pratt Chair, it is a banality-because what changes is just the chemical formula. This is ironic because we make a lot of talk about design/art, art/design. The Pratt Chair — depending on the density of resin, is a sculpture or a chair. The idea was to make #1-9, changing the formula from #1 liquid, to a little more resistant, to structural, to dense- until #9.

The formula of the #1 was jelly — as soon as we opened the mold, the chair collapsed — like a body with no bones. In that moment we cannot use the chair. We can only look at the chair — as we do with art. We then changed the formula. So, #2 is a little stronger, when we open the mold the chair stands up but if you touch it, it collapses. Then, #3 is a chair that a small child might sit, but it also gives the child a kind of insecurity because the chair wobbles. #4 is okay for the child, as #5 and #6 might be for an adult. Then #7 changes again because the curve hardens- hugging the back. Number #8 and #9 are so rigid that they become uncomfortable”

— Gaetano Pesce in conversation with Glenn Adamson, October 2018.

In 1984 Pesce requested to use Pratt’s laboratory, studio space and tools to make molds for a special chair he had modeled in wax. Thus the Pratt Chair was named. Initially, Pesce intended to make a series of 81 chairs using nine resin formulas, yielding nine chairs from each formula, however in this initial experiment he made only thirty-four. The Pratt Chair is a series of volumes on the floor, and exists as a physical manifestation of Pesce’s argument that “design is a form of art”. Glenn Adamson explains, “while in a series and made from a mold, the Pratt Chair resists the modernist idea of a perfect chair. The first chair and the ninth chair are the ones that are more like sculpture because they become unusable. It is like a shifting set of values.” For Pesce material processes has always been experiments in liquid form. For Pesce, the liquidity of resin is a metaphor for the character of our time, “Where values move around, up and down like a liquid.” The Pratt Chair communicates though its organic human shape and the symbols inscribed on the resin. The hand, for example is a symbol that speaks to the difference between an idea and a physical object, representing manual labor that is required to make and test the functionality of the chair.